Every day, thousands of people travel along the M53 mid Wirral motorway, past the Vauxhall car factory near Ellesmere Port. Most do not realise that behind the giant factory buildings there exists an important and historic site for early aviation in Britain.
Prior to being developed as an aerodrome in 1917 this site was a racecourse set in the grounds of Hooton Hall, which was requisitioned in 1914 for Army training purposes. The first unit stationed at the new aerodrome was a Royal Flying Corps pilot training unit who remained until disbanded in 1919.
In 1927, the site was purchased with the intention of creating a major airport serving Liverpool and the Northwest of England. During the twenties and thirties Hooton was a flourishing centre for aviation and was visited by several celebrated aviators including Amy Johnson and Sir Alan Cobham with his Flying Circus. Aeroplanes and engines were manufactured at Hooton - Nick Compets famous record breaking Swift and the Pobjoy 7 cyl radial aero engine.
In 1930, Hooton officially became Liverpool Airport, a position it held for three years until near neighbour Speke took over in 1933. During the inter-war years Hooton was a thriving industrial complex.
In February 1936, No 610 (County of Chester) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force was formed at Hooton - a distinguished Squadron that served with honours in the Battle of Britain. During the war the station was used by Coastal Command, operating patrol flights over the Irish Sea from South Wales to Cumbria.
An important function of Hooton's war effort was the assembly and repair of RAF aircraft undertaken by Messrs Martin Hearn Ltd founded on the site in the mid thirties by a former wing-walker with Cobhams Flying Circus. After the War aircraft assembly and repair continued until the mid fifties, work being undertaken on aircraft for both civil and military operators.
In its final years three Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons operated from Hooton including the reformed No 610 - by this time flying the Meteor jet fighter. Hooton Park finally shut its gates as an aerodrome in 1957, and in 1962, was purchased by Vauxhall Motors.
The last aircraft to use the site was in 1988, during the "Wheels" show, when two RAF Harriers used part of the old runway prior to their display.